Friday 26 January 2024

The Artwork Revisitation

 If you've been reading this blog for at least a couple of years you might remember this bit of acrylic art I put up early in 2022:

It was OK but something about it wasn't quite clicking with me. Then I read a recent article in The Guardian which included the brilliant Chris Foss talking about AI-generated imitations of his own style, and how they could never be mistaken for the real thing.

I looked at the images in the link to Midjourney provided in the article and agreed that they only looked superficially Chris Foss-like - big bristly spaceships floating over alien landscapes etc - but the particular thing that the artist noted was that the images lacked depth, something undoubtedly characteristic of his pictures. He nonetheless noted that the AI-generated images might serve as useful prompts for composition and lighting, so he wasn't dismissing them entirely. 

It occurred to me then that one of the faults with the painting above is the absence of depth - there's some atmospheric misting to push the towers back a bit, but the spaceship is just floating there more or less side-on, with no real reference points to place it in the scene relative to the other elements. Sometimes I use one or two point perspective construction lies to give a sense of a spaceship emerging from a scene, but in this case, I just winged it and drew it without any reference to perspective, figuring it would come out all right. I'm still happy with the ship, but in light of the Foss article - and a bit of renewed mojo for breaking out the airbrush - I thought I'd take another look at the canvas. And, rather than show the finished result, I thought it might be more fun to illustrate the process, even if it all ends up going horribly wrong.

So here's where we are now:

I did a bit of additional masking and spraying on the ship itself, bringing out its forms a bit more clearly by defining shadows and highlights, but the main thing has been to start work on some foreground elements which project out into the scene and serve to push the ship back. In this case I picked a single perspective point and drew some lines projecting out to the vanishing point, which (when finished) will be walkways or landing pads of some kind. I could envisage some smaller spacecraft and/or figures in the nearer foreground.

I also added a touch of contrasting colour in the sky, but this came out much too heavily and will need to be pushed back a bit.

I still don't know whether this will end up being a piece of art that I'm satisfied with, but the journey is fun and these corrective steps and additions can be very educational, so even if this painting fails, the lessons learned will hopefully inform the next one, and the one after.

Thursday 18 January 2024


 My new novel is out - published on Tuesday in the States, and today in the UK. It's the third in the Prefect Dreyfus sub-series and also a book in the Revelation Space universe. It's likely to be the last word on the RS universe for a bit, not because I'm fed up with it, but because I want to concentrate on standalones from now on.

There have been a few early reviews. Publisher's Weekly called it "a touching and spectacularly intricate sequel that also functions well as a standalone", while Booklist said "Reynolds pulls out all the stops ...readers’ fingernails will be left ragged."

The Daily Mail called it "an immersive, compelling, slow-burn space mystery" while SFX called it "a brilliantly realised melding of police procedural and hard SF".

That's it for now. I've not so far had any promotional activities offered to me but we'll see what eventuates. I'll also put up information on signed editions as and when there's something concrete to report.

best, and thanks to all who have pre-ordered.

Al R